What are your thoughts? Is it a success, failure, in-between, or incomplete? (I got this topic idea from Cody Stavenhagen on the Athletic and wanted to hear from you all. Here are my thoughts...
I feel that it has largely been a success considering where the program was when he took it over. He overachieved with a transfer quarterback in his first season by winning 10 games and turning Rudock into an NFL draft pick. In his second season, they lost three games by a total of five points - all of which came down to the final play. Granted, they could have made plays earlier so that they weren’t in that situation. Regardless, they were one shady call in Columbus away from playing in the Big Ten championship and moving on to the playoff. That was all accomplished with a three star quarterback who was not immensely talented. Last year, they had the least number of returning starters in D1 college football. Their top two quarterbacks got injured, and they still managed to win eight games.
Harbaugh has been a victim of unrealistic expectations, created partially by his overachieving and leading the team to the brink of the playoff in his second season and partially because of his outstanding accomplishments at every other coaching job he has taken. Look at what happened to Florida State, a preseason top three team, when they lost their quarterback last season. Look at Notre Dame and Michigan State in the 2016 season, they were 3-9 and 4-8 respectively. The worst season in the Harbaugh era of Michigan is 8-5. Let’s not forget to mention that while he has not fared well against his rivals, MSU had two fluky wins. They barely won in a monsoon with 5 Michigan turnovers that still went to the final play and won on one of the luckiest plays in college football history. I already mentioned that OSU won one game on a very questionable call. Also, anybody who watched last year‘s game knows that even decent quarterback play would have led to a Michigan victory. How many teams can compete with Ohio State like that with their third string quarterback? And now this year, you have a very talented roster and an excellent coaching staff ready to compete again at the highest level. Also, he is looking at his third top 10 recruiting class in four years.
Things are very bright in Ann Arbor (despite the misleading media and jealous fan bases pointing out third-place divisional finishes without any context). And the best of the era is yet to come. Michigan fans are fortunate to have such an excellent leader for the program. Plus, when you look at their two two chief rivals off the field, Michigan fans have to be grateful to have a leader, a program, and a university that stand for something more than winning at all costs.